The researchers behind the landmark National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health Study, otherwise known as Add Health, have been chosen to receive the first of the 2016 Golden Goose Awards. The study, conceived by Drs. Peter Bearman, Barbara Entwisle, Kathleen Mullan Harris, Ronald Rindfuss, and Richard Udry in the late 1980s and early 1990s while at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is a federally-funded study designed to “illuminate the impact of social and environmental factors on adolescent health.” The Award honors “scientists whose federally-funded work may have seemed odd or obscure when it was first conducted but has resulted in significant benefits to society.”
Add Health findings have helped to identify major determinants of health and health behaviors during the transition from adolescence to early adulthood. The study followed its original nationally-representative cohort for more than 20 years. Add Health “combines longitudinal survey data on respondents’ social, economic, psychological and physical well-being with contextual data on the family, neighborhood, community, school, friendships, peer groups, and romantic relationships, providing unique opportunities to study how social environments and behaviors in adolescence are linked to health and achievement outcomes in young adulthood.” It has provided insights into the ways that families, schools, neighborhoods, and peers can influence positive health outcomes. This insight also led to better understanding of negative outcomes and behaviors, such as violent behavior, drinking, illegal drug use, smoking, and sexual behavior. A 1998 COSSA Congressional seminar, What Do We Know About Adolescent Health: Findings from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, allowed the researchers to share some of the study’s initial findings with Congress. The study’s name was recently changed to the National Longitudinal Study of Adult Health.
The researchers, along with two other teams of still-unnamed Golden Goose Award recipients, will be honored at the fifth Golden Goose Award Ceremony in September. COSSA is a sponsor of the awards.